DARLINGTON COLUMN: Inexpensive Gifts for Grads
Graduation is a profound experience for any young person, whether graduating from high school or college. Whatever the future holds for them, it's always reassuring to know that their families and friends are behind them to support and respect their decisions as adults.
As a token of that love and support, many loved ones choose to send gifts to recent graduates. Any young person would appreciate a check in the mail, but you may want to consider sending something they can cherish long after their graduation money runs out.
Here are some budget-friendly ideas based on some of the favorite gifts I've given and received as a recent grad:
One of the best gifts I received after college was a stack of old books by Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite author. Some of books were used and tattered, but I didn't care one bit because it was such a thoughtful, practical gift.
You can follow my friend's lead by finding out the graduate's favorite author or musician and collecting a few of their works. Wrap them in some twine and a thoughtful note, and it'll likely be a gift he or she will never forget.
If you're not sure what type of novel the grad-in-question will read, Jonathan Sanchez, owner and manager of Blue Bicycle Books, suggests “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace. You can find the novel at the bookstore for $15.
“Wallace was a really thoughtful, brilliant man, and the book is a graduation speech that he gave. It's not that long, and it's a beautiful little poem about being aware of your surroundings,” Sanchez said.
Books can be great gifts, but they're not for everyone. Unless you know that the graduate is a big reader, you may be better off finding something else.
The Oops! Co. specializes in overstocks from mail-order catalogs and name brands, so it's a great place to find gifts that look expensive but don't cost too much. Patricia Kearse said she can't advertise the special prices on brand names, but that there are plenty of good deals on items such as coolers, ties, tote bags and other items at the stores on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant or King Street downtown.
If your grad is heading to or from college, it's always a safe bet to give a memento with the school's logo or mascot. The VAULT carries apparel with retro-style emblems from more than 100 colleges and universities, according to owner Wayne Welden. All T-shirts are American-made, and when you buy four from The VAULT, the fifth is free.
“Trust me, they're the most comfortable shirts you'll ever put on,” Welden said.
The store has locations on King Street and in Belle Hall Shopping Center in Mount Pleasant.
Many people choose to monogram items like tote bags or towels with the graduate's initials. At Lands' End, big beach towels are marked down to $20, and you can request monograms for an extra $6-$10. As for bags, Vera Bradley still seems to be the most popular designer among young women. Certain prints are marked down 25 percent off or more for a limited time online.
When you're shopping for a recent graduate, the key is to be practical yet personal. Don't overthink it. Something simple like a coffee mug can be a great gift as long as it has something personal to offer, such as a favorite sports team or a funny quote. Believe it or not, those are often the types of things people will keep for years, if not decades.
Reach Abigail Darlington at firstname.lastname@example.org.